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The Sin Behind The Issue with Andrea Boland

February 2023

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Laura: Hi Andrea. Welcome to Unsung Stories. Thanks so much for joining us.

Andrea: Oh, thank you so much for having me. This is very exciting.

Laura Smith: Yes, we're excited to have you. Just so that our listeners can get to know you a little bit more, could you tell us a bit about you and your family? And just what everyday life looks like for you. ]

Andrea: Sure. I'm a mom of two boys, seven and nine, and married to Alex and we live here in the Blue Mountains in Western Sydney.

So day-to-day life while. The boys are at school. I'm working from home. I work in social media and then I'm off duty as soon as they come home. And then it's onto mom duties. Yeah, that's really good. And just looking after them, looking after all the boys and doing the normal kind of family weekend things, including being part of our local church.

Laura Smith: Yeah. That's wonderful. So I'm sure over the last 10 ish years of motherhood, there's been lots of things that have challenged you not only as a Christian but as a wife, a mother, a woman. I'm wondering what have those challenges been for?

Andrea: My husband and I, we weren't raised in church. We both came to our faith in our teens, in our twenties.

So we have had to be intentional when teaching our kids about Jesus and we learning alongside them and teaching ourselves and then teaching them and just making sure that they're being discipled. I. Yeah. Yeah. That's really cool. Yeah, I'm sure there's a challenge to that as well I don't know.

Even learning the Bible, the Sunday school songs or all of those kind of things. Yeah. But also how good are kids resources for teaching us big bible truths as well.

I'll tell you what, the Jesus storybook Bible? Yes. The absolute winner. Like I could just read that all day long and that's really good.

Yeah. I love this book. It's called Special. And so she goes through, I'll have to put it in the show notes on the website, but she goes through who is God or what is sin? All of these like big concepts and she breaks them down for kids. And I would say your kid would need to be, I don't know, over 10 ish.

Yeah. But I have found it really helpful ever since I, one of my children is quite a big thinker and so loves asking hard questions, , but I found it really helpful to go to that. It breaks it down in kid language and I go, oh, that actually makes so much more sense than me reading an adult book on it. And then I can t.

To my child. I find it really helpful.

That could be a really good tool for evangelism or just trying to explain things in a really just simple sense. Simple. Yeah. Would you, the Bible does say that we have to be like children when we come to God and we need a childlike faith and and also, I don't think we realize how much we speak.

I call it Christianese. Oh yes. . So to Be able to think simply about these things because at the heart of it, the gospel is quite simple. Absolutely. Yes. That's really great. So sorry I interrupted you back to your challenges. That's totally okay. Yeah. What have they been for you? Cool. Big challenge.

When my boys are little, I had quite severe anxiety, mental health issues panic. And on one occasion it actually led me to being in the hospital. And while it was a while ago, it was a really big part of my motherhood journey and how I shaped things and worked things and thought through things.

And also, yeah massive part of my faith journey. Two, like real earthquake moment . . Yeah. And lastly in the last year and a half I've been on a massive big health transformation. I've always had my weight yoyo over the years. And whenever I did lose weight, it was always in my own strength and then I'd have to work extra hard and rely on myself.

And, that can only last for so long before the weight starts coming back on. And, you have lots of different life seasons where your health is up and down of course, but as I've worked in my health this time, I've been. Trying to lean into Jesus. And I found that food had become an idol for me. It was comfort and nearly an addiction. But I wanted to be someone who is really leaning into Jesus and turning into him in all things. So I started to do this when it came to my health and how I exercised.

And now I'm a bit further down the road. I can see how much sin was actually at the root of my lifestyle and there was just so much idolatry, so much glu, and it really has become a bit of an eye opener.

Yeah, that's really cool. I'm keen to chat more about that. I feel like I've had a similar thing happen.

Over the last, yeah. Year and a half as well. Yeah. And you think Currents helped ? Yeah. Yes. And yeah. I remember sitting there and a friend was on a diet and he pulled out a packet, OFS, tars. And I went if he can do that, I can go on a diet. Exactly. No, Joseph. But yes, it was. It was also. Yeah, it was a big eye opener and I love hearing what you said and I can see so much of the same thing in my own life that, I'm, I don't wanna hear anyone to hear me or us say that we're, but that people who unhealthily are being sinful because I think you can.

Be, you can not be sinning in the way you eat, but for me it was sin. Like I was turning to food for a comfort. I was gluttonous, I was lazy. And as I seek to work on putting that sin of laziness or glu to death, I mean that t translated. A healthier lifestyle. Absolutely. But I never heard anyone really talk like that before.

So I love hearing that you've been on this similar experience and similar journey. It is such a big thing yeah, it's what we call it, an acceptable in acceptable. Yes. Gossip, venting, yeah. It's just something that we don't talk about. We can hear about the big things like pornography and lust and, just spending too much money, but Food is such an everyday thing.

Yes. And it's a big part of our life. It's a big part of fellowship. It's a big part of the Christian life and being part of the church family, there's always something that revolves around food. Yeah. Yes. That's very much the Australian culture. Exactly. And yeah, but also just like the lack of self-control.

And I love actually that you've also had mental health struggles. Cause I feel like that was also a big part of. How I got, so I lost about 20 kilos over the last year. And yeah, but that's good. Yeah. But also, but while I That is awesome. What I'm more celebrating out of that, and I suspect that you'd be the same, is that.

I can see so much growth in the areas of my character that I wasn't enjoying. So I didn't feel like I had self-control. That's still always gonna be a work in progress. I felt lazy in my motherhood. I felt like my comfort was going to that block of chocolate every afternoon instead of turning to Jesus.

And I still am a sin. I don't turn to Jesus as much as I should. Yeah. But I can see by God's grace that as we put these disciplines in place around food or moving my body, I just feel like God has been so kind, like my mental health is so much clearer or I'm able to have energy to serve more or all of these beautiful things.

So yes, for losing the weight it grained. But more than that, the things God's done in our hearts and our character is, oh, it's so. yes. You hit it all on the head, . Yes, absolutely. There's so much benefit to that kind of lifestyle and, leaving any sin behind will.

Yeah. Yes. Will bring in. The goodness of God and the power of his transformation. Yes. So it does sound like you've had a really big decade, and I'm keen to chat more about those things that you just shared with us. And as we've just been talking now, seeing the sin at the root of your health concerns and as you've said, your anxiety and mental health has improve.

Since working on this. Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah. . As you look back on your anxiety, and I wanna be careful here because I like, like I touched on, I really don't want people to hear me say that our mental health is a result of our sin. I'm not saying that , but I'm wondering if there was anything or any lies that were feeding your anxiety.

Yeah. So I would absolutely firm that my mental health issues are not just because of my sin. There's wiring, genetics, trauma that all reshapes our brain. Yeah. But I would say for me, it gets exasperated by my sin. Yes. What a great reframe there. Yeah. . So the root of it being, what are people thinking about me?

My image measuring up meeting other. Standards fear of failing a diet or fear of failing an exercise program. And definitely, yeah that's all pride. Pride is a sin . So basically just not relying on God but myself and perhaps thinking that he won't take care of me or the situation.

When you say won't take care of the situation, what do you mean by that? Oh just say if. I've done something and I'm like, what's this person gonna think of me?

Oh, okay. Yes. That he won't take care of me or, he won't take care of that situation or that blunder or mistake I've made. Yeah. Yep. Yeah. So has there been anything that's helped you as you've dealt with those underlying heart issues? How have you realigned your thinking when you've noticed these fears or these idols creep in, and what do you do with it?

So I guess the big thing is coming back to God in all things and knowing his word and working hard and training at putting that sin to death, especially working hard and training myself not to be gluttonous and not.

Put food up as an idol. Choosing to honor him in the little decisions and one little thing at a time. The concept of training myself as an athlete would be with purpose, and it reminds me of First Corinthians 9 24 to 27. So do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives surprise. So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises. Self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable reef, but we and imperishable, so I do not run aimlessly. I do not box as one beating the air, but I discipline my body and I keep it under control less after preaching to others.

I myself should be disqualified.

I guess you could say I've had to realign my thinking

to be like an athlete. Yeah, I just think the point of that verse is to live intentional as a Christian. Yeah. So just like this verse is saying, be intentional as a Christian, Yeah.

Don't be apathetic with your. Be like an athlete who is training, wanting to achieve something. Do that as you live as a Christian. And here because we are talking about getting our bodies under control and Yeah. It's borderline here. I don't wanna be saying you all have to be athletes.

Yes. This is saying live intentional as a Christian. Yes. No, you're right. Heaven is coming. And I think the tricky part as you were reading that, I was like, hang on a second, . Yeah. Let's take things outta context. Yeah. Yes.


Andrea: don't run meaninglessly, have a plan. Come back to God and his plan.

Yes. And so I think we're saying two things as we've been working on our bodies to have self-control or to not be gladness or to not be lazy or all of these things like we're discipline, this says, disciplining our body, keep it under control. We are also doing that as Christians. So we are wanting to be not just apathetic in the way we live but to live intentionally, to be faithful with what God has given us, to be obedient to him, to be putting us into death, working on our self control or the things that.

Yeah. That we're working on. Yes. Yeah. That's really great. Yeah. And I also think something that we haven't spoken about is how we do take it too far the other way. Yeah. Have you wrestled with that at all? So now that you feel like, oh, I'm actually I've lost weight, or I'm like working on my athletic performance,

sin will creep in at every point. Have you noticed it swing too far the other way? Oh, for sure. Definitely. I think I'll, I love body building and I love the culture and like sometimes I'll see myself doing those little bodybuilder type of poses in the mirror and just my natural self.

And I'm like, okay just chill out just for a sec. Just it's not all about you so you can definitely take it too far, like pushing the limits of your body to exhaustion.

Just the only thing that you're thinking about is like your meal plan and probably buying all the active wear and newer sneakers and things like that just so that you are looking the part as well. Or even just, I feel like the way we spend our time, on one hand we're, I was saying I was struggling not to be lazy, but then now I feel like I get that dopamine hit.

I feel better after I exercise, so then I'm , Put all of my time and energy into how can I exercise more when I go, oh, I need to be taking my kids to the library for their good. Or actually, it would probably be good if I stayed home tonight and didn't go and exercise so I could spend time with my husband.

Or am I putting too much into this like you said, obsessive over the meal plan when actually. I did this so that I had freedom Yes. Around food oh, how much we can swing on the Yes, . Absolutely. It just goes to show we gotta we're gonna continue to sin, so we need to continually check our hearts.

Yeah. Check our hearts and be intentional. Get back to Jesus. Get back to the word yes. How are we spending? Yeah. Our time, our priorities, all of those. Yeah.

So if you are thinking back to Andrea, pre losing weight or even mental health , how did you feel like your relationship with God was during that time? It was pretty, pretty flat. Apart from just doing the regular things like Sunday Church and helping out with different ministries, I don't feel like.

In a good place personally with him, like avoiding having quiet times or thinking, oh, I'm too busy for quiet times, or I don't if when I do it, I don't feel like I get anything out of it when really it was just me not going a hundred percent all in, in seeking him. Yeah, like a bit of that, oh, I wanna be close to God, but I'm not actually doing anything, like going to church, but I'm not prioritizing reading the Bible.

I'm not prioritizing praying or Yeah. Going to growth group, that sort of thing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But how good is it that our relationship isn't dependent on those things that, oh, praise the Lord. I know that it's nothing that we can do. Yeah. Yeah. And so you mentioned that you became a Christian later on in life.

How was that before you became a mom? So I was 15 when I became a Christian. Yeah. Great. So I'd probably say later on in life because in comparison to Yeah. Yeah. Most of my friends who were raised in Christian homes have been Christian since they were little, kids in primary school.

Yeah. And did that relationship With God changed from before you had kids to when you had kids? Did you notice that was Oh, yes. , that was the shift? Yes. Absolutely. Yeah. It got, it changed massively before I could spend lots of time in the word, I could go to Bible studies, I could I could do all of these things.

To help grow my faith. And then when I had children, it felt like there were, the breaks were pumped on. Yes. I was lucky if I could actually hold a book and a baby at the same time hold the Bible or even the mental energy, like you can, might be physically hold the book or hold your phone and the baby, but you read it and it's I, what, what is going on?

Yeah. Yeah. I guess what you're trying to say is there's something that we do as the habits of Christian that do grow us and that do stir our affections towards God.

Yes. Which is a really beautiful thing and I think that it's not uncommon in motherhood to feel spiritually dry when those habits have been. Either taken away or made harder. Yes. By having a newborn. Yes. Or young kids. And then let's just chuck in some postnatal depression and anxiety too.

Oh yeah. and No sleep. No sleep. Yes. Yes. And I guess that just really, kids can be a really big struggle in how we spend our time with God. How is there, has there been anything that has really grown you as a Christian in mother?

So having kids with something hard in the healthy habits I had set up as a Christian as we've spoken about, going to church, reading the Bible, being part of a small group, that sort of thing.

So af over the last year or two, as I've worked hard at building structure into my life, both for my Christian walk, but also as a person. Caring for my health. I can see so much growth in my character, growth in putting my sin to death, growth in choosing to honor God and to be faithful to him. So while that looks like getting up early and doing a workout, it is so much more than what I'm doing physically to care for myself.

What I'm really trying to do is put my sin to death. Choosing to eat a healthy meal plan or to eat half the amount of dessert as usual, while it is also trying to care for and nourish my body, I'm also working on my sinful tendency of gilles and reigning that in all of these little things I choose to do for my health, it's really shown me where I'm struggling as a sinner and then I'm left with the choice to give into my fleshly desires or to choose to honor God with the way I'm using my energy or the food I eat or how I spend my time. And as I've chosen to hand these desires over to God, I can see growth as a Christian as well.

Wonderful. Yeah. That's really great.

I'm wondering what else have you learned about yourself in all of this? You've got the physical benefits, the mental benefits there's also relational benefits.

When you are feeling a bit fitter, you've got a bit more bit more energy. You are able to pour into your kids a bit better. You're able to pour into your husband better, you know, the lights on, things like that. Yeah. You got some confidence. You've You're able to serve and love in the church and to other people because you know you're not exhausted all the time.

They think about, all the tables and chairs we've gotta put away sometimes at the service. You're able to help people do that. I've even found simply by having the self discipline of getting up earlier. Yes. And then I'm actually up so often, not often, that makes me sound like I'm good at this.

One of my goals is to get up earlier in the morning and just stretch. Cuz otherwise I just spend it on my phone lying in bed like a slugged so getting up earlier, having a stretch or going for a walk. If my husband's home I then, On fire, ready to go for the morning, and I'm happy and the household flows better.

But then I actually I show up on time to things because that ball's already rolling and what else can I accomplish today? Yeah. Yeah. I must say I go to bed a lot earlier now too, but I think that's just part, it's like part of the game.

It's just, I think asking God for the energy as well. Yeah, that's massive. And I think, I guess what we're both saying at the heart of it is that self-discipline really has Things with it. Yeah, absolutely. And so what have you learned about God in all of it?

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